DANVILLE, Va. -- The Covenant men's basketball team had a double-digit lead in the first half, then rallied back from a double-digit deficit in the second half before falling to Averett, 103-98, in overtime on Friday night at the Grant Center.
Caleb Haynes led Covenant (7-5, 3-2 USA South) with 24 points on 11-of-13 shooting. Four other Scots also joined in on double figure scoring as James Mitchell hit six 3-pointers and finished with 18 points, while Will Crumly and Bailey Spragg each had 14 points and Berto Dryden 10. Spragg continued his stat-stuffing ways as he collected nine assists, seven rebounds, and four steals on the night.
Things went well for the Scots in the first half. Covenant went on an 8-0 run early on to take a 10-4 lead with 16:30 left in the half after Dryden hit two 3-pointers and Spragg added a basket. Covenant would not trail the rest of the half and extended the lead to 11 after a Mitchell 3-pointer that made it 39-28 with 1:07 remaining. Averett sliced into the margin over the final minute of play, but the Scots held a 39-34 lead at the break.
Covenant shot 59.3 percent in the opening 20 minutes with six 3-pointers.
In the second half the roles reversed as the host Cougars found their stride. Averett went on a 17-4 run to start the second half, aided by six points from Montre' Cash, to grab a 51-43 lead with 15:13 left. The Cougars' lead ballooned to 14, 67-53, with 11:03 remaining after another Cash triple.
But Covenant had a big run left and used it to get back into the contest. The Scots scored 14 straight over a span of four minutes to regain the lead at 74-73 with just under five minutes left. A Nick Palmer 3-pointer tied the game up at 73 apiece during the run and Dryden went 1-of-2 at the line to give the Scots the one-point edge.
After Averett took a 78-76 lead with over two minutes left, the teams went scoreless until the final moments. Spragg made a free throw to cut the Scots' deficit to one, 78-77, and after a Covenant defensive stop, Mitchell drained another 3-pointer giving the Scots an 80-78 lead with 12 seconds to go. Averett's James Contreras, Jr., pushed the ball up the floor, was fouled, and made both of his free throws to tie the score at 80-80 with under four seconds left. Dryden went the distance on Covenant's next possession, but his mid-range floater just missed and sent the game to overtime.
In the overtime, it was the Contreras show for Averett. The guard scored 15 of his program-record 42 points in the extra session and held off the Scots each time it got close. Covenant briefly took a one-point lead after a Mitchell 3-pointer with 3:45 to go, but Averett led the rest of the way. Mitchell made three triples in the period, the last of which cut the deficit to 99-98 with 15 seconds left. Contreras made all 11 of his free throws in the overtime to secure the win for Averett.
Covenant shot 50 percent (36-of-72) from the field with 13 3-pointers and a 13-of-17 effort at the line. Patjo Twagirayezu added nine points and four boards for the Scots, while Palmer had six points and four assists. Jared Jauch had seven assists off the bench, as the Scots had 30 assists on the night.
Averett (7-5, 2-2 USA South) got 42 from Contreras as he was 11-of-21 from the field and 19-of-20 at the line. Cash and Jalen Burnett had 11 apiece and Timothy Henry had 10. The Cougars made 52.9 percent (36-of-68) from the floor and 28-of-31 at the charity stripe.
Covenant will have a quick turnaround as the Scots travel south to Rocky Mount, N.C., on Saturday to face N.C. Wesleyan. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.
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